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Maureen Howard
3 Nov 1993
More about Maureen Howard

In her award-winning autobiography, Facts of Life, Maureen Howard explains the conflict between her goals and her father's hopes for her: "I think because I loved him, coarse and unlettered as he pretended to be, that he would have known from experience that our lives do not admit the fictional luxury of alternate endings." Howard's fiction reflects this view that alternate endings are illusive. As her characters attempt to recreate their stories, they discover that the past has predetermined their lives. One cannot alter personality; one can only understand, accept, and grow within the frame of individual talent. At the end of Facts of Life, Howard describes herself at twenty-three: "I am beginning. My life is beginning which cannot be true." Her life began long ago, her character determined years before that moment. That the majority of Howard's fictional characters are female seems coincidental; in her introduction to Seven American Women Writers of the Twentieth Century, Howard asserts her preference for universal concerns: "To my mind this is the most egalitarian manner in which to study women's literature — to presume that these women are artists first and do not have to be unduly praised or their reputations justified on grounds of sex." In Howard's novels, discovery and acceptance of one's own character challenge both genders.
Copyright © 2005 University of Rochester
Photographs + Manuscripts: Plutzik Papers, Dept. of Rare Books, University of Rochester Libraries

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